There are a range of different types of dog food suited to small breeds like the cavapoo. What type to feed yours will largely be down to your preference and that of your cavapoo. Note that supplementary food and treats are fine providing they don’t contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs.
As Einstein once remarked, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” Please note that I am a long-time dog owner and a stupid human, not a canine nutritionist, and can speak only from experience. Conflicting advice on feeding your dog is abundant. For instance, there are those who disagree with feeding commercial foods according to stage of life (puppy, junior, adult, senior). However, whilst we are on the subject of the universe….
It is a truth universally acknowledged that….
- dogs have carnivorous origins (though they are technically omnivores), and that the meat content in your chosen food should be adequate;
- dogs should not be overfed. Bear in mind that your cavapoo is among the smaller breeds, although he may be active, and needs good-quality nutrition to help strengthen muscles and bones to develop;
- you should pay attention to the labelling on both dog food and treats which indicate what age of dog the food is suitable for
- breeders should supply you with either some of the food your new cavapoo has been eating or information (switching food types can cause stomach upsets).
- dogs resemble humans in having likes, dislikes and allergies.
Wet or Dry?
Your dog must have access to clean, fresh water. If, like my only male, he regards the dish as his personal paddling pool, or his muzzle has been in the flowerbed, change the water throughout the day. The water dish is especially important if your dog’s diet consists mainly of kibble. Owners can be remarkably snooty about kibble, but the advantages are obvious: it is easy to store, practical to take on holiday and results in less obnoxious (if bulkier) dog waste.
Tinned food or food in trays is likelier to appeal to a fussy eater as it is closer to fresh in texture and scent, and it may also contain fewer preservatives than kibble. However, as your cavapoo is small, you will need to refrigerate leftover meat. This can present difficulties on holiday. Dog waste is decidedly fruitier and, as the food tends to be richer, tinned meat may upset your dog’s stomach and cause loose stools.
Read the labels. If the food, wet or dry, is described as X “with [turkey, beef, chicken]”, the meat content is often shockingly low – perhaps as little as 4%. Good quality kibble, tins and trays that list the meat at the head of the ingredients may contain 50% to 70% meat. These are the foods for your dog.
Fresh or Commercial?
With four medium-size dogs to feed, I provide fresh chicken or even lamb occasionally, as a topper, or even a little white fish. It would be pricey to set a platter of roast meat before them every day. If you are the owner of a small cavapoo, you may prefer to avoid commercial foods altogether because of additives, but do some research into your dog’s nutritional needs. Like humans, dogs need vegetables and some fruits for their mineral and vitamin content. Rice settles the stomach as an all-meat diet is not merely inadequate but causes diarrhoea and flatulence.
Some breeders and owners swear by raw meat. By all means, research the topic but, personally, I’m not a fan because Fido is sharing my home, and I don’t want to follow him about with scented candles to disguise the acrid whiff. My brother and the family retriever both contracted a notifiable illness (campylobacter) from raw chicken, and they abandoned the regime when they set off on their annual camping holiday. Decaying meat is even worse than unwashed socks.
Commercial foods are often classified as “complete”. Again, do your research. If you mix and vary what you feed your cavapoo, you can be pretty confident that his or her dietary needs are being met.
Fido has studied the main menu and chosen his food. Now it’s time for the extras (you know, the ones that cost more and come in square china dishes on the side). Let’s look at some of the popular ones in more detail:-
- Cheese: My dogs love it, but blue cheeses with a mould content and any with onion or garlic are off the menu. The Blue Cross advises that small amounts be given as training treats or to conceal pills, but note that some dogs are lactose intolerant.
- Peanut Butter: Never assume that any old brand will do as many contain a chemical sweetener called xylitol. This is toxic to dogs. Buy a type such as “Peamutt Butter”, sold in Pet World and other outlets. If you wish to grind peanuts to butter at home, choose dry-roasted or unsalted. Peanut butter in a kong or empty marrowbone will occupy your dog in his crate.
- Bananas: Yes, Fido usually enjoys these. A medium to large dog may have half a banana, but a smaller breed such as a cavapoo should have two to three slices.
- Carrots: As in humans, the beta carotene contributes to eye health. Teething pups can be diverted from the legs of your Regency furniture with a carrot, possibly straight from the freezer.
- Tinned sardines: These have a lot going for them. First of all, the smaller the fish retrieved from the sea, the lower the level of mercury contamination. Sardines contain all the amino acids your dog needs and aid mobility in older dogs. The best are sardines in olive oil. Avoid fish in brine or tomato sauce, and remember that sardines are dense in calories, especially if they have oil. A cavapoo needs about half a tin. Feed occasionally as, despite the low mercury content, it would accumulate over time.
Foods to simply avoid
- …..chocolate. Chocolate for human consumption contains theobromine, which can kill your dog. Chocolate made specifically for dogs may be non-toxic but will cause dental decay unless you clean your dog’s teeth. An excess could even cause weight gain and diabetes.
- Grapes, dried vine fruits (raisins, sultanas), onions and garlic: Again, they could kill your dog. I have even read the advice that a garlic pearl in your dog’s food will deter fleas. It is useless – and it might kill your dog, especially a small cavapoo.
- Cooked poultry bones: Even cooked lamb and beef bones may splinter, causing terrible damage. I no longer give the time of day to vacuum-packed bones as, on two occasions, the pack was split and the contents were stinking. Do not feed rawhide, however attractively presented (as bones, shoes, twists). They can swell in the stomach and cause serious problems for your dog.
How often to feed your dog?
Don’t be bullied! There are plenty of people around who tell you that your dog is a wild animal, designed to eat infrequently. Puppies need to eat about four times a day anyway, but as long as you regulate the amount you give your dog and avoid heavy meals before a walk or vigorous playtime, why shouldn’t Fido enjoy breakfast, lunch and supper breaks away from his office?